These warm, rich colours are the ones I long to be surrounded by during our cooler winter days. It was the July school holidays and I was itching to sew, to create something from fabric. Digging deep into my stash, reliving memories of past quilts, I teamed up favourite warm prints with rich solids (some of which I had just bought on a Spotlight sale of $1 per solid fat quarter). There was a mix of organic and conventional cottons, shot cottons and plain solids - whatever I had on hand. Soon I had gathered enough for around 20 pairings (the lime green black moths on the left below was the only block to not make the final selection).
My primary inspiration was this quilt by Blue Elephant Stitches which took my eye quite some time ago. However I liked the idea of using all solid backgrounds and larger blocks. I set to work fiddling with size and construction ideas based on Blue Elephant Stitches' similar 'liberated stars' quilt here. I planned the sizing and cutting layouts to require only a fat quarter of each solid and a fabric piece 10" x 17 1/2" for each print/star fabric (you could cut two 'stars' from a printed fat quarter). This allows for generous seams too.
My stars are neither 'wonky' nor precise sawtooth stars. I chose to enjoy the journey and eyeball much of my sewing, calling them 'relaxed' stars, while making sure all centre point 'V's' were complete, not clipped off, and ensuring a good margin of solid all the way around the star points for easy seams and later hand quilting.
Using heavy 12wt cotton thread I machine quilted along the seam lines of each block to secure the quilt well. At this point I trimmed and added the binding, finishing the back by hand, so it was more manageable to hand quilt and preventing the batting leaving light cotton lint all over the dark fabrics.
Then began my favourite part - hand quilting in contrasting silk threads! A perfect winter slow sewing activity. Last year I had bought many Gutermann R 753 Buttonhole silks at greatly reduced prices on eBay, stock from a small fabric shop which had closed. As far as I know these silks are no longer sold in Australia at all, which is quite sad. Magenta was the only colour I was missing for this quilt, so I used three strands of DMC stranded embroidery thread in that colour from my cross stitch collection of years/decades ago. Perle cotton would work just as well.
After trial and error I found it best to draw my quilting lines with a ruler and Sewline Air Erasable Fabric Pen, one small section at a time. The lines disappear somewhere between ten minutes and two days, depending largely on the amount of moisture in the air. This pen worked well, even on the darker colours, which were easier to work on by daylight. I reserved quilting the lighter colours for night times.
Monday morning I completed the quilting, Tuesday the quilt was washed, line dried and finished on low in the dryer to help soften and smooth the delicious crinkles.
Yesterday my youngest three volunteered to hold the quilt for me, for it is quite large. Each finished block is about 14 1/2" square with the complete quilt measuring 58" x 73" (147cm x 185cm).
The batting is Hobbs 100% Organic Cotton made in the USA. The backing is a combination of two Sarah Watson prints for Cloud 9 Fabrics, GOTS certified organic cotton. The feature print, one of my all time favourites, is Biology which is now sadly out of print. It is bordered by Wild Strawberry in Gray, part of Sarah's current Garden Secrets collection, which is thankfully available at Spotlight in Australia. For the binding I chose Butterflies in Navy from Geninne's Moody Blues collection, also now out of print but still available in some Spotlight stores, including our local store :)
Late yesterday, just after sun down, I had a wonderful time taking photos of my Sunset Garden quilt, in my garden. I do believe the name suits it well. I have been wondering whether to keep this quilt or offer it for sale. This morning my husband voted that we keep it, even he likes the saturated colours! So keep it we will. :)